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Arrival is the first instalment in a serialised 7 segment novel, describing a country struggling with its demons. The autocratic regime takes several facades and different denominations to survive. And so do the characters of this story. A jailed bank clerk, a journalist, a drug dealer, Islamist radicals, and others representing different levels of society, interact and fight, like the country.
This is the story of two successive military coups in an Arab country. The first is accomplished by a republican secularist junta and the second by Islamists. The narrator, Bassam Bourasin, an eccentric and zealous bank clerk, decides to write down a top-secret report, to protest against his incarceration by the new regime. His purpose was to clean up himself from the heavy charges he was facing and prove that he was well devoted to the new masters of the country. As the narrative develops, he unveils many details about his life in his village, 'Ouja, and his new condition in jail. Thus, he tells the reader about his obsessions and secret ambitions, his old mother living in the past with the British settlers, his fiancee Dalila whose hugging or kissing is forbidden to him by social traditions, and his secret archives where he had managed to record for the posterity many details concerning life and people of 'Ouja. That entire world collapsed when a coup overthrew the King, and the big purge started. What happened to him and his boss, Mr Aroussi, was all the more painful that the man for whom he was working as a snitch, the mighty chief of the party's cell, Hamda La'war, was still free. The latter was considered a national hero in the country, since he was awarded the Order of High Merit from the former king, for cuckolding the village's shoemaker and getting an eye punctured in the brawl. To obtain the same medal, Bassam was ready to do anything, even if he had to convince the new masters of the country of a conspiracy against the security of the state being concocted by the cooks of the prison and their occult allies. That is the second purpose of his top-secret report, which he intends to submit to the authorities. But out of the blue, a second coup led by the Islamists happened; a mutiny burst out in prison, and Bassam was forced to readjust his views to be in the "right" direction of the wind.